THE VIRGINIAN-PILOT Copyright (c) 1994, Landmark Communications, Inc. DATE: Friday, November 25, 1994 TAG: 9411230040 SECTION: FRONT PAGE: A22 EDITION: FINAL TYPE: Editorial LENGTH: Short : 44 lines
The luckiest night of Cab Calloway's life was the night he forgot some of the lyrics to his newly penned theme song, ``Minnie the Moocher.'' Drawing a blank during a radio broadcast from Harlem's Cotton Club, he filled in with the first thing that came into his mind - ``Hi-de-hi-de-hi-de-ho. Oodlee-odlye-odlyee-oodlee-doo.''
Rather than booing his forgetfulness, the audience went wild, hollering the lines right back at him.
That was in 1931. Before he suffered a stroke last June, no one could scat-sing those lines - or deliver a lot of other music - like Cab Calloway. Last Friday, when he died at age 86, music lovers born generations after the demise of the big-band era knew that something unique had been removed with the taking of the ``hi-de-ho'' man.
``Minnie the Moocher,'' Cab Calloway's first record, was issued in 1931. The wailing tune, delivered to countless audiences through the decades, was the tale of a ``low-down hoochie-coocher.'' A new generation came to love the song - and his style - when Calloway appeared in the 1980 film, ``The Blues Brothers.''
At age 84, he performed in Norfolk and Virginia Beach with the Virginia Symphony Pops, wearing his trademark white suit for such Calloway standards as ``September Song'' and ``It Ain't Necessarily So.'' He'd played many years earlier at the Attucks Theater on Church Street.
``It Ain't Necessarily So'' is from George Gershwin's ``Porgy and Bess.'' The play's lead character - dapper, drug-dealing Sportin' Life - was modeled on Calloway's performing style - ranging from insinuatingly smooth to sweat-causing shouting.
In the 1950s, Calloway took the Broadway role of Porgy, adapting the character to himself rather than becoming the character. In the late 1960s, he returned to Broadway in an all-black version of ``Hello, Dolly!'' He delighted millions. There are worse ways to be remembered. by CNB